What’s the point of even having campaign-finance laws when one of the state’s most powerful political players can get away with a flagrant violation?
In a settlement with the state Board of Elections, the New York State United Teachers didn’t have to admit guilt, but only pay a $100,000 penalty.
Risa Sugarman, the board’s chief enforcement officer, had sued over the illegal funding of state Senate candidates in 2016.
And it seems obvious that NYSUT wasn’t trying to comply with the law: It set up a political action committee and an independent expenditure committee that by law are supposed to be firewalled apart — but were run by the same people.
NYSUT’s top two officers, Andrew Pallotta and Melinda Person, had “actual and strategic control over the day-to-day affairs of both the political action committee and the independent expenditure committee,” the complaint said.
So when the PAC gave $700,000 to the IEC, it wasn’t giving up control of how the funds got spent, but just end-running strict rules on how PACs can spend the cash they raise.
When the powerful get off with a slap for something that blatant, it doesn’t matter how tough the letter of the law might be.
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